The genus Scadoxus in the Amaryllis Family (Amaryllidaceae) is endemic to southern and tropical Africa. They are in the tribe Haemantheae, and Scadoxus is very closely related to Haemanthus and less closely to Clivia and Gethyllis, all in the same tribe. They are herbaceous perennials growing from a rhizome. The flowers are borne in an umbel, a cluster at the top of the peduncle or stalk.
At one time in the past, Scadoxus and Haemanthus were treated as a single genus. This is no longer considered correct.
Scadoxus puniceus is native to South Africa. This is the first bloom on the first seedlings of this species in my greenhouse. This species is found in the Drakensberg and on the High Veld, where it blooms in Spring, before or just as the leaves are emerging.
There are several differences between Scadoxus and Haemanthus:
Scadoxus has thin, glabrous leaves with a prominent midrib and a petiole-like base, while Haemanthus leaves are of heavy substance, often pubescent, and lack a noticeable midrib
Haemanthus forms a distinct bulb of leaf-base scales, while Scadoxus forms a corm- or tuber-like bulb structure
Scadoxus leaves grow from a pseudostem (false stem) formed from the bases of the leaves wrapped around each other, while Haemanthus leaves emerge from the bulb flat and parallel to each other
Scadoxus species occur in the summer rainfall areas, while Haemanthus species occur mainly in the winter rainfall area. Only a few Haemanthus species grow in the summer rainfall areas.
There are several species and subspecies in the genus:
cinnabarinus (Decne.) I.Friis & I.Nordal -- West and Central Africa
Fewer but large flowers on a short scape.
S. lindenii is a synonym of cinnabarinus
cyrtanthiflorus (C.H.Wright) I.Friis & I.Nordal -- from the Ruwenzori mountains between Zaire and
Pendant, tubular flowers
Not know to be in cultivation
Also known as Choananthus cyrtanthiflorus
longifolius (De Wild. & Th.Dur.) I.Friis & I.Nordal -- West Africa
Leaves are longer and narrower than those of cinnabarinus
membranaceus (Bak.) I.Friis & I.Nordal -- from South Africa
Somewhat similar to katherinae but with fewer, lighter colored flowers, but this species differs considerably in the length of the perianth tube, the width of the perianth segments and the larger dimensions of the stamens.
Scadoxus puniceus, S. multiflorus katherinae, and S. membranaceus (left to right)
These plants can grow in partial to heavy shade. Some of them may get scorched foliage if exposed to full summer sun. Mine all get only morning sun or dappled shade in summer.
They seem to prefer growing in large pots; I have most of mine in 8-inch or 10-inch clay azalea pots (¾-height) planted in a sandy loam or peat mix. S. multiflorus multiflorus will grow and bloom in smaller pots; I have mine in 7-inch standard clay pots. S. multiflorus katherine can be held in a 6-inch pot for many years; but this will keep the corm from growing, and any blooms that such a plant produces will tend to be stunted and misshapen.
Feed with a dilute soluble fertilize when the plant is in active growth. This is usually from late winter or early spring onwards. In late summer, stop feeding. In winter, reduce watering or cease watering completely, especially if the plants are exposed to cold temperatures.
Not frost-hardy, so protect from freezing.
Other Sources of Information
Bjørnstad, I.N & Friis, I. (Friis, I. & Nordal, I.)1972-1976. Studies on the
genus Haemanthus L. (Amaryllidaceae) I--IV. Norw. J. Bot. 19: 187--206; 19:
207--222; 21: 243--275; 23: 63--77. The last reference providing keys to the
species, list of synonyms, and necessary combinations. Bulbous Plants of Southern Africa, Neil du Plessis and Graham Duncan, Tafelberg Pub. Ltd., Cape Town (1989). Bulbs for Warm Climates, Thad M. Howard, University of Texas Press, Austin (2001). Bulbs, Revised Edition, John E. Bryan, Timber Press, Portland (2002). Cape Bulbs, Richard L. Doutt, Timber Press, Portland, Portland (1994). RHS Manual of Bulbs, John Bryan and Mark Griffiths, Eds., Timber Press, Portland (1995).
I want to thank Dr. Robert Archer, National Botanic Institute, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, for his generous assistance in developing this page.
My thanks to Doug Westfall for the fine pictures of S. membranaceus.
* Notes on S. pole-evansii courtesy of Jack Stooks.